At PAX Aus 2019, we were fortunate enough to be able to speak with Ben from Dragonbear Studios about their upcoming co-op party game – Chaos Tavern.
Alex: Hello everyone, it’s Alex from Switchaboo and I’m joined here by Ben from Dragonbear Studios. How are you today Ben?
Ben: Yeah good thank you, yourself?
A: Not too bad, thank you! So please tell us about Chaos Tavern.
B: Chaos Tavern is a cooperative multiplayer game about running a magical tavern in an Australian-inspired fantasy world. You can play with 1-4 players where you’re working together to serve customers, fight or feed monsters who come in ‘hangry’, explore your tavern’s magical powers and help it grow over time. You’re going to start off with a small little establishment but as time goes on, the choices you make are going to affect your tavern and it’s going to reflect on yourself and the personality you’ve given it.
A: Australian fantasy setting… can you touch on that a little bit more?
B: So this is a world where colonisation didn’t happen but instead, we’ve got a very strong multicultural world that takes strong inspirations from the first nation’s people. We have strong indigenous themes throughout our story and narrative and you’ll be exploring those – especially how you take care of the land and take care of your tavern. However, there is still a worldwide influence and of course being a fantasy world, we have a lot of fantastical and mythical elements. In Chaos Tavern, you’ll be seeing a twist where Australian spirits mix with predominant European fantasy that you’d normally see with your dwarves, elves, etc.
A: So it’s your own brand of fantasy?
A: What made you make a game like this?
B: This game started off as a dungeons and dragons campaign my co-founder, Paulina, ran for her D&D group. In that, she gave her players a magical tavern and explored that. It resonated really well; it was both emotional and fun to explore, so we thought that due to our love of multiplayer co-op games, we ran into a bit of a dearth with them. After we played as many as we could find and we ran out, we thought that we had this idea so why not make our own game.
A: Makes sense to me! So what is the gameplay concept?
B: In the beginning, you’ll be running around serving customers – there’s lots to do. You’ll be serving health and mana drinks and while it is a tavern, you won’t be selling any alcohol. As your customers come in, they’ll ask for drinks and soon enough, they’ll want some meals so you’ll serve them steaks. Adventurers will arrive in day two and they’ll want potions that you’ll need to brew up for them. As time goes on, you’ll need to mix those up to make your own special enhancing potions that you’ll either serve to your customers or drink yourself to gain power-ups. Soon after that, you’ll have your first monsters. They’re going to come in and do an entirely violent or nonviolent approach – whatever you’d like – you can either fight them off or become their friends.
A: What are the advantages and disadvantages of befriending or fighting a monster?
B: We’re going to leave some surprises there, I think. As we say, the journey is the fun part, but it’s going to feel satisfying and definitely give something to talk about as well.
A: Fair enough [laughs]. While I was playing Chaos Tavern, I noticed that I was constantly needing to do something and there was never a dull moment. Was that the intention?
B: Definitely. We’ve aimed so that there is always one more task that needs to be done. We really love that play where you’re running from one side of the tavern to the other. In Chaos Tavern, while your characters have classes, they don’t have any specialisations, meaning that there isn’t someone that is better at pouring drinks, for example. We want everyone to be able to run between the stations and work them all just the same. Therefore if you’re serving drinks, your pockets just got full and you need to run off to the bank to put your money in there so that you can collect more, the person who is taking care of the steak can take your place. That circular gameplay really helps to keep the gameplay fresh because we’re trying to avoid players having specific roles, such as one player doing drinks and only drinks; we want to disrupt that and we think that’s fun and has been resonating with players.
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A: Is Chaos Tavern strictly co-op or is online planned?
B: Online is planned. However, there are a couple of factors that are going to come into that which is what the market is going to look like soon because I know that there are some things like Steam announcing Remote Play Together. So we’re going to look at whether we’re going to go full in on that, depending on funding.
A: In terms of the Switch version, have you considered any exclusive features, e.g. HD Rumble or touchscreen?
B: HD Rumble and touchscreen are definitely features that we’ve had in mind. When you’re playing the game by yourself, you can play the game in Delegation Mode where you’re playing as one character but you can send the other characters off to do tasks. The Switch’s touchscreen is perfect for that. You can, at your behest, summon in one of your companion characters and swipe them to perform certain tasks.
A: That’s a really unique feature!
B: Thanks! People do play games by themselves and that’s not something that we want to discourage. This feature also works really well if you’re just playing with two people and you want to send another off to perform more tasks or you can play Chaos Tavern like a management simulator instead. However you want to play this game is the way that we want you to play it.
A: That sounds good! Also, we’d like to acknowledge everyone who is working on Chaos Tavern, I imagine that it’s not just yourself…
B: No, we have a great team of amazingly talented people. Paulina Samy is our other co-founder along with myself, Benjamin Boyd. Dan Szabo does our programming alongside myself, Phoebe Watson is our Indigenous game designer who helps us out with a lot of our cultural stuff, Olivia Haines does our amazingly cute 3D models and our art, Lucy Shi did our concept art, Ben Swallow has done our animation and Joshua Morris on rigging our 3D models. Also, getting this far has only been possible with the support we’ve received from Film Victoria, in particular the absolute superstars Liam Routt and Meredith Hall.
A: Fantastic! So when can we expect to play Chaos Tavern on Nintendo Switch?
B: On Switch, we’re looking at the end of next year – 2020 Q4.
A: Is there anything else you’d like to say to our readers about Chaos Tavern?
B: We are so excited to get this game into peoples’ hands. We’re feeling true enthusiasm from the crowd and we cannot wait to share it with the world. Stay in contact with us and follow us on our development journey.
A: And where can people stay in contact with DragonBear Studios?
A: Thank you so much for taking the time out to speak to us today.
B: No worries, thank you for seeing us.
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